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Livni’s comeback could be the last chance to topple Netanyahu

It’s an extreme long shot. Probably impossible. But Tzipi Livni’s comeback may be the only way left to change the balance between the blocs, especially if  she and Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich distance themselves from each other

Tzipi Livni (photo: wikimedia commons)

A few thoughts on Tzipi Livni’s comeback, announced yesterday.

This move, mocked by everyone all over the map, is actually the only chance the Left has. A Hail Mary of sorts.

Right now, and judging by the Haaretz poll published today, it’s a move destined to fail. The gloomy data even says the left-wing bloc is actually shrinking more, and that Livni “only” grabs seven mandates. But there’s something about the Haaretz poll that feels a bit too early, that the polls in the next few weeks might show something else.

As my colleague Noam Sheizaf has pointed out on various occasions, all polls since 2009 show the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu leading and taking the upcoming elections. The average difference between the blocs has typically been 65-55 in favor of the right. The Haaretz poll from today shows a grim 69-51 for the right.

But there are at least two things that are still dynamic and changing, and could bring about some shifts between the blocs:

1) The results in the Likud primaries – The extreme right-wing party that has emerged after the primaries is a political earthquake. It doesn’t seem these results have really sunk in yet, and this may have not yet been expressed in today’s Haaretz poll.

The liberal, moderate right-wing no longer exists in the Likud. They need to find a new home. Tzipi Livni can offer them that. There are already rumors that Dan Meridor may join her, which could be a considerable push for her efforts to bring other Likudniks over.

2) The map is still changing – two parties, Kadima and Haatzmaut – will be gone in a matter of days or weeks. Ehud Barak’s departure ended the latter, and Shaul Mofaz has shattered the largest party in the Knesset: from 28 seats to only 2, according to Haaretz today. Rabbi Amsalem’s party could be a dark horse – without knowing which bloc he could go to. And let’s not forget that Ehud Omert has yet to decide on his move.

Both Kadima and Haatzmaut  are considered “center” or “center left,” so these aren’t bloc-changers. But they do “clear up” the map of contestants and big names to choose from, which may have some effect on undecided voters.

Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid HAVE to display anger over Livni’s move. If they show any kind of satisfaction with Livni’s return, it will only signal a sort of alliance between the three – and that’s not what’s going to bring anyone over from the right. The only way for those depressed Likud liberals to leave home, or for undecided voters to choose left, is if Livni and Yachimovich distance themselves from each other. All that can change after the elections, if needed.

Having said all this, one has to be realistic: It’s a long shot. Extremely long. And the number of seats that need to move over seems to be getting bigger and bigger by the day. But hey, I remember the days before the first debate when Romney never had a chance. Things happen.

I suggest to wait for the next polls, after we see the list of politicians Livni brings to her party and the way the map shapes up. Seven mandates on the first day of a campaign isn’t too shabby. But if the next couple of weeks don’t bring any changes to the blocs – the Bibi-Lieberman government is a done deal.

Why do Israeli pollsters, media ignore the Palestinians?
Ehud Barak to step down: On his de-evolution, and Israel’s
The Likud presents: The craziest, most radical list ever expected to win elections

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    1. Shaun

      The Israeli left in more delusional that FOX news was on the eve of the US elections.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Adrian

      So Ami, do you think it’s realistic to think Bibi won’t be next PM?

      Reply to Comment
      • I think if I had to bet on it, the chances are much more in his favor.

        Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      There are numerous reasons for the political bankruptcy of the Left.
      I attribute it to a complete abandonment of the Zionist ideology that motivated them from the 1920’s to the 1970’s and which they abandoned after the Likud came to power in 1977. Zionist ideology was reflected by support for settlement, aliyah (ingathering of the exiles) and security…i.e. an end to Jewish powerlessness. Starting in the 1980’s all these were abandoned in favor of what they called “the peace process” but which really included ending the committment to those Zionist values. Settlement in the West Bank and Gaza WHICH WAS INITIALLY IMPLEMENTED BY THE LABOR PARTY before the Likud (as Shelly Yechimovich has repeatedly pointed out recently) was turned into abhorrence by the same people who initiated, aliyah became unimportant (The Leftist elites view that “why would any Jew want to live here when our own kids and grandchildren are leaving in droves?”) and security was chucked out for “victims of peace” or “It is better for civilians to be killed than soldiers” or “allowing our public to be killed brings us sympathy from the world and diplomatic advantage”.

      Add to this the dishonesty and fraud by which the Left conducts the politics of the country….e.g Sharon betryaing his voters by destroying Gush Katif after promising not to and refusing to get a public mandate for his change in view…the attempt to destroy the Likud by setting up KADIMA in which tzaddikim like Shaul Mofaz first says he will stay in the Likud forever and THE NEXT DAY announcing he is leaving, setting off a chain of events which the latest is Tzippi being voted out of leadership of KADIMA and then setting up a rival party designed to destroy KADIMA merely in order to get even with the KADIMA scum that chucked her out.
      Another factor is that the Left, which has set up one artifical party (i.e. one without any real base of support among the public) aftern another since 1999, merely has its Knesset Members playing musical chairs instead of allowing new people to come up through the ranks. Thus we just get a recycling of the same old, failed, discredited politicians. The Likud, a much more stable entity representing a real ideology and a solid base among the public has a whole group of young people who have worked their way up and are now, at a young age, in positions of power. The Bayit Yehudi (National Religoius Party) has also conducted a house cleaning and brought in young, attractive faces
      to the top of their list.
      Compare this even with MERETZ which claims to be a party for the young, but almost all their MK’s in safe positions are the same old people who have been in for decades.

      As Meir Shitrit of KADIMA said some years ago “we are proud to say that we have no ideology”. Thus, they have nothing to offer the voters on the Left, who, like everyone else, is looking for substance and not finding it in the celebs that have taken over the Left (don’t forget that Shelly Yechimovich is a former radio personality, and Yair Lapid is from TV and the newspapers….’nuff said?!)

      Reply to Comment
      • Shelly became famous on TV, not radio. And probably has more ideology in her than most politicians.

        Reply to Comment
      • Mitchell Cohen

        Also, the fact that everyone on the left needs to be a “boss” of his/her own party, rather than joining a bigger party and not necessarily being “#1”.

        Compare this with the right, where the politicians are putting aside their differences and uniting (left, take not of Lieberman/Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett and Ichud HaLeumi).

        On the left, you have as many parties as politicians, while on the right you have big blocks of parties that set aside their differences and egos.

        I am no leftist, but if I was I would pay attention to the right for now….

        Reply to Comment
        • I’m sorry, that’s bullshit. Even Ha’Ichud Ha’Leumi managed to split. And if not for right-wing splinterism, Rabin would probably have never been elected prime minister.

          Reply to Comment
          • Mitchell Cohen

            YG, which part of what I said is BS?!?! Is it not true that there is a new party forming almost every day on the left, while on the right they are uniting? I am not talking about the Rabin era, but now….

            I don’t think one has to be a rightist to see this….

            But hey, if you would rather shoot the messenger and just believe all is hunky dory on the left, then by all means carry on….

            Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Witty

      They started too late.

      Hamas probably elected likud, in escalating rocket fire before the Jabari assassination.

      And, the left ignored that the likud-israel beitanhu block is the formation of a two party system in Israel, rather than the wide coalition orientation prior.

      Now’s the time to start preparing for the next election (assuming that some stimuli to martial law doesn’t occur first, which is very very sadly quite plausible in the likely present political momentum).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Shelly

      Thank you Ami.
      I have a tendency to “switch off” with anything related to the gazillion parties in this country. Your explanation, commentary, and even slight glimmer of hope (even if it’s a long shot) made the usual obtuse situation much more understandable for me and for that I thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Kolumn9

      Has there ever been an occasion where a politician achieved higher numbers in a real election than those they got in the earliest polls?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bob H.

      The Israeli left must stop thinking ideologically and start thinking numerically. While one or two seats at best might be gained by defections from the right, the true payout is in inceased turnout among secular left and centrist Jews and Arabs. While the nationalist camp maintains a high voter turnout, the above mentioned groups stay home in uncomfortable numbers. As the Obama campaign proved, a strong ground game can be decisive and there are more votes in last times non voters than in Likud party switchers.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Bob H seems to think there is some sort of natural alliance between the Arabs and the Israeli Jewish Left. While it is true that both have a common opponent in the “Right-wing” camp, this does not mean they have common interests. Don’t forget most of the Left that pushes the “peace process” uses the argument “we want as few Arabs as possible under our control so we won’t have to see them”. There is an extremely wide divergence between the values of the Israeli Left and the Arabs…partucularly the devout Muslim population which is actually muchy closer to the Israeli Religious/Right in its day-to-day lifestyle and values.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Richard Lightbown

      A prominent war criminal who has to plan her overseas trips with great care to avoid arrest is regarded as the great white hope for liberal policies in Israel. Who wrote this script, Itamar Rose?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Kibbutznik

      ” Bob H seems to think there is some sort of natural alliance between the Arabs and the Israeli Jewish Left. While it is true that both have a common opponent in the “Right-wing” camp, this does not mean they have common interests. Don’t forget most of the Left that pushes the “peace process” uses the argument “we want as few Arabs as possible under our control so we won’t have to see them”. There is an extremely wide divergence between the values of the Israeli Left and the Arabs…”

      Thats bullshit

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        The clause you left out of your complaint is Islamophobic bullshit too.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bob H

        Are there 61 seats that can be denied to Bibi and his natural allies? Can the non voter be brought to the polls? Cynicism and ideological attacks aimed inward within the “not Bibi/not Lieberman” camp lead to progressive voter apathy. An analysis of “change elections” in modern electorates point to the critical role of “new voters”, not “switchers”. Wouldn’t we all rather sit over a beer and dump on Tzipi or Shelly as PM than as failed backbenchers. It’s time for the Left to enter history and not just interpret it.

        Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Just out of curiousity, Kibbutznik, how many Arab members are there in your kibbutz and have you built a mosque for them to worship in?

        Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        You are bringing a political election propaganda film as proof against what I said? HADASH is a Marxist party. Only a small minority of Arabs are Marxists. HADASH gets a minority of the vote for Arab parties. The growing Islamic movement rejects HADASH’s philosophy, which is one of the reasons the Arabs can’t form a joint list for the election. The Jews who support HADASH (it is estimated that 1 of the 4 seats they get comes from Jewish voters) are generally anti-Zionists who are a tiny minority of the Jewish population. You have not proven you point.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Kibbutznik

      ” Just out of curiousity, Kibbutznik, how many Arab members are there in your kibbutz and have you built a mosque for them to worship in? ”

      About as many as we have right wing religious and yes no synagogue either .

      We prefer the term post-zionists and I am a socialist not a marxist.

      Reply to Comment
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